Blog by Brenda Jolly
I had an all-out ball in college. I was captain of our college soccer team and my life revolved around workouts, classes and trips to the cafeteria. Our school was small and the town was even smaller. There were a handful of fast food restaurants off campus and one sit down restaurant that really wasn’t great. That being said the cafeteria was free, fairly decent and filled with a frenzy of young people. I love loud, energetic environments. This made the cafeteria my dining option of choice.
What I loved about my college experience was this great sense of camaraderie and belonging. As my teammates, friends and classmates would usher into the lines and fill the tables I remember hearing the clink of metal chairs as their legs collided in our efforts to fit yet another seat at the table.
People would walk by eye balling the table with a darting glance wanting to evaluate if there was a space for them and over time it became laughable. We had adopted this saying, “There’s always room for one more!”
It didn’t matter how full the table was. If you wanted to sit, we would make a space for you. God’s table is the same. There is no cap, no cut off. There is always room for one more. There is always a seat at the table for you.
I am not in college anymore and have had the joy of walking some beautiful seasons. I have also walked some really tough ones where I have found myself pining for a friend, for a sense of belonging, for an understanding of how I can be surrounded by so many people and feel connected to no one. I don’t have all the answers for seasons of life where we find ourselves less than belonging. But I do believe in leaning in. I also believe in not being ruled by emotion. Just because I feel less than doesn’t mean I am. On the contrary I am who God says I am. He says he sets the lonely in families and he is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. He says he is my ever present help and gives me peace that transcends all understanding.
It is okay — more than okay to have a hard time connecting, but lean in. Paul shows us a beautiful example of leaning in during a time of isolation. God ministered to my heart by his example.
Paul writing from jail, the epitome of isolation, “Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.” Philippians 1:3 (msg) He writes this to the Philippians in an encouragement for them to know and love God more than they ever have. He is not sobbing about his situation rather he turns his thoughts to prayers.
I have since endeavored to turn my thoughts to prayers. When my insecurities creep in, and I find my confidence waning. When my mind begins to rummage through all my insecurities – I turn those thoughts to prayers. When I long for a friend – I pray for her. When I think about the “discussion” I had with my husband the day before – I pray for him. When the kids cross my mind or an acquaintance or coworker pops up on my feed — I pray for them. Thinking is a powerful tool and prayer lifts those thoughts to heaven. My encouragement to us all – PRAY – pray often, pray easy and pray with some excitement. Prayer connects us to Jesus and there we all have a seat, a place to belong.
YOU BELONG at Devoted Conference 2017